A Short Stories’ “Sabbatical”?

I spent a good part of yesterday with new characters “Brad” and “Clémence,” as well as with a couple of “old timers,” and filling in additional details and description in several chapters. In the process, I dropped in a couple of thousand more words at least. I became so immersed in it all, I lost track of the time.

The afternoon flew by. As I finished up, I realized again just how unwilling I am to let go of “my friends” quite yet. I’m not “done” with them by any means.

I ended up again pondering what could follow immediately after Distances. I know there will be a fourth novel eventually, and I already know its very general contours. But I’m now pretty drained mentally from writing these first three, and I suspect I will need something of a “sabbatical” to recharge.

Free Stock Photo: A pile of antique books.
Free Stock Photo: A pile of antique books.

I had been mulling over the idea of taking “six months” post-Distances and declaring, “Eh, that’ll do for now.” It seemed reasonable. After all, three novels of nearly 100,000 words each over three years is nothing to sneeze at.

By comparison, my HarperCollins published uncle has written eight novels since the early 1980s. Uh, not that I’m comparing myself to him! Even if I am there, uh…. a little bit. ;-)

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“Because you are born on a farm….”

Emerging from “Valérie’s” car onto her parents’ Paris driveway….

Excerpt from
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

I thought I’d share that bit from Frontiers. (You may be interested in the *note at the bottom of this post, about a line in that above.) “It” is “1995.” Not that long ago.

A Paris view. [Very old photo, by me, 1994. Look familiar? It's on the back cover of Passports.]
A Paris view. [Very old photo, by me, 1994. Look familiar? It’s on the back cover of Passports.]

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Reminder: Airplanes Are Not The Living Room…. Or Another Room

With so many more people flying than ever before, and with space on board planes becoming tighter, people are, umm, closer than ever on aircraft. Perhaps too close. Rightly, Valerie wants everyone to respect each other a bit more: “Dear Couples Who Love To Fly”:

Screen capture, Valerie & Valise web site.
Screen capture, Valerie & Valise web site.

We’ve all endured clueless, inconsiderate idiots on planes. But reading her open letter also made me smile, because whenever I see something like it I also recall an experience I’d had some twenty years ago – the single, strangest one I’ve ever had on a plane. (And that includes having once also shared a row with a Frenchwoman and an Amish man.) I first posted this in May 2014, and thought it worth a repost here this morning:

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From Narragansett Bay To Writing Today

Wednesday’s post about a writer of “17 books” going on and on about her personal money woes, combined with the end of my “Bastille Day” free promo for Passports, got me thinking more on this subject.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of books.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of books.

We know there are the “sneak peeks” that the likes of Amazon use to drive sales. But that is not always enough. Much as with musicians who do free gigs and artists who display paintings merely to be seen, when you are lesser known as an independent author it is certainly unreasonable to expect readers to part with money for your work until they believe it is worth it.

So making a novel free is often necessary. Still, it does go against the grain to offer complete free books to enable readers to get to know your work when yours aren’t “shorts” produced every few months for quickie consumption. It’s a lot easier psychologically to give away 1 “short” book when you have “16” others out there, than it is to give away a 400 page novel when you have only 2 of them.

* * *

Much is also made of the fact that independent novels, be they shorts or full-length, are imperfect. They may have, for example, typos:

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An Immigrant Heritage

If I’m given the chance, I’m unsure if I would vote for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal for president. I don’t know enough about his politics. They seem deeply conservative, and I’m annoyingly moderate.

He seemed to say some stuff many here in the U.K. disagreed strongly with when he visited recently. However, I am willing to hear more from him. I’m always willing to listen to every reasonable candidate of any major party, and as a governor that by definition makes him “reasonable.”

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

A separate – and disturbing – issue has been the mockery directed at him on social media (and even in some U.S. mainstream media) for his apparently not being “Indian enough” or even attempting to be “white.”

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“There never will be anything more interesting in America than that Civil War never.”

Following the murders of nine African-American churchgoers in South Carolina, old social media photographs of the white supremacist arrested for it naturally surfaced almost immediately. In one, he’s wearing jacket patches of the apartheid South Africa flag and the white minority government Rhodesia flag. In another, he’s posing on a car displaying the Confederate States of America emblem.

His embrace of the latter has revived arguments inside the U.S. about the post-Civil War tacit understanding under which the United States became one country again:

Screen capture of Vox.
Screen capture of Vox.

That Vox piece is the sort of thing that leads one to wonder if supposedly well-educated members of the media have ever read a serious history book?

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An 18th Birthday Party

Sixteen years ago, in the middle of our wedding vows in a nearly silent church in north London – assisted unwittingly by my Italian-German aunt, who had kept giving her sweets – the 2 year old had loudly demanded of her mother, “Mummy, I need to poo!”

It didn’t make the wedding video, which was her Danish mother’s greatest fear.

That mum has now been a close friend of my wife’s for nearly 20 years; and she has become my friend, too.

And that toddler – whose father is English – who yelled at our wedding about needing to “poo” has just turned 18. Last night her bash was held in a hotel function room in Bristol.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a present with happy birthday text.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a present with happy birthday text.

She’s now also about 5 ft 10 and (we noticed as we studied her among her friends) resembles Taylor Swift. We hadn’t spotted that previously. And we would never say it to her because we don’t know how that might be received. ;-)

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In Your U.S. Passport: Place Of Birth

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2002 law compelling the Department of State to allow U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to have their passport note their place of birth as Israel. Although President Bush had signed that bill into law, he refused to carry it out. President Obama continued that refusal.

The Constitution states (in Article II, Section 3) that the President “shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers.” From those words it has essentially evolved that it is not Congress – the legislative branch – that is mostly responsible for carrying out foreign affairs. The voice of the country diplomatically comes mostly from the President – meaning from the executive branch.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe with borders.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a globe with borders.

Sometimes presidents sign contentious bills into law simply to direct a matter into the courts for constitutional clarification. Apparently some 50,000 U.S. citizens have been born in Jerusalem. After that 2002 law was allowed on the books, birth there and the passport terminology for its location was almost certainly going to end up in court when the executive branch State Department, following the policy course set by both Bush and Obama, naturally declined an “Israel” request by someone who was also willing to sue over it.

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